Lo­cals up­staged

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE -

THE Ja­panese, Euro­pean and Korean brands up­staged US stal­warts Cadil­lac and Lin­coln in the lux­ury stakes at Detroit 2017. The Amer­i­can brands rolled out a cou­ple of con­cepts we’ve seen be­fore but it was left to the for­eign­ers to steal the show at the top end of town.


Just when you thought there was no new SUV niche left to ex­plore, Audi has un­veiled its Range Rover ri­val, the Q8. Lux­ury SUV sales con­tinue to grow at record pace, and so to broaden the num­ber of cus­tomers it might at­tract, Audi has built a gi­gan­tic four-seat SUV with a low slung roof. It could well be the big­gest and heav­i­est four-seater on the planet. It is based on the un­der­pin­nings of the sev­enseat Audi Q7 SUV but has a shorter body to make it eas­ier to park. The ag­gres­sive nose with a new eight-point grille is also a sign of things to come, says Audi, point­ing to its fu­ture de­sign di­rec­tion.

“With the Audi Q8 we will reach new cus­tomers. I’m con­vinced this car will con­trib­ute strongly to the suc­cess of Audi on a global scale,” says Audi head of global sales Di­et­mar Voggen­re­iter. Un­of­fi­cially, the Q8 is in­tended to com­pete against the BMW X6 and the as yet un­re­leased Rover Rover Sport Coupe. Ex­pect a choice of petrol, diesel or hy­brid power. Audi is plan­ning to ex­pand its SUV line-up to in­clude seven ve­hi­cles; one in ev­ery three cars sold last year by the Ger­man brand was an SUV.


The rad­i­cal de­sign of Toyota’s Ja­panese lux­ury brand is start­ing to show signs of ma­tu­rity, blend­ing the “Nike swoosh” day­time run­ning lights into the head­lights so it now looks more co­he­sive.

The new Lexus LS is due in Aus­tralian show­rooms this time next year. The head­line act is a new twin turbo 3.5-litre V6 send­ing its power (310kW and 600Nm) to the rear wheels through a 10-speed auto (a lux­ury sedan class first). Lexus would not con­firm it, but ex­pect this en­gine and trans­mis­sion com­bi­na­tion to ap­pear in other Lexus per­for­mance mod­els in the com­ing years in the IS and GS ranges. En­gines are too ex­pen­sive to re­strict to just one model and Lexus boasted that this pow­er­plant had more grunt than a V8, so we reckon it will form the ba­sis of Lexus’ fu­ture F per­for­mance range.

Lexus says the new model — un­veiled 28 years af­ter the first Lexus went on sale — is “des­tined to re­peat LS his­tory as a car that re­de­fines and ad­vances ex­pec­ta­tions of lux­ury mo­tor­ing and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion”. The com­pany may have build qual­ity and cus­tomer ser­vice nailed, but it’s still lag­ging on the tech­nol­ogy front, with less au­ton­omy than equiv­a­lent mod­els from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.


Among the cars of the fu­ture were some just around the corner, such as the Mercedes GLA. This car looks fa­mil­iar be­cause it has been on sale lo­cally for two years. But with a bold new nose (grille, head­lights and front bumper) and ex­tra tech in­side (key­less en­try and Ap­ple Car Play and An­droid Auto) Mercedes hopes Aus­tralian sales will con­tinue to climb. Benz’s baby softroader posted a mas­sive 25 per cent sales growth last year. The new model is due in lo­cal show­rooms mid-year.


Nis­san’s lux­ury brand In­finiti un­veiled a con­cept ver­sion of its next gen­er­a­tion mid-size SUV. The QX50 has car­ried over the sweep­ing lines and un­usual shapes from its lat­est hatch­backs and sedans. Ac­cord­ing to Nis­san, the QX50 is “the lat­est em­bod­i­ment of In­finiti’s ‘pow­er­ful el­e­gance’ de­sign lan­guage and is both aes­thetic and func­tional”. Ex­pect a choice of petrol, diesel and hy­brid power when the pro­duc­tion model ar­rives in show­rooms in 2018.


An­other update of the Ge­n­e­sis lux­ury sedan bowed in Detroit, this one pow­ered by a new twin­turbo 3.3-litre V6. The model is called the G80 in the US but un­for­tu­nately that en­gine is un­likely to make it to Aus­tralia. In­stead the flag­ship Ge­n­e­sis lux­ury sedan will con­tinue with a reg­u­lar 3.8-litre V6. How­ever, we are likely to see the twin­turbo V6 en­gine in the smaller and all-new G70 in Aus­tralia late this year. Ge­n­e­sis is Hyundai’s lux­ury off­shoot and the G70 is a BMW 3 Se­ries ri­val.




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